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How Does Unsplash Make Money? The Unsplash Business Model In A Nutshell

Unsplash is a Canadian stock photography platform founded by Mikael Cho in 2013, as he was unable to source high-quality stock images for his freelance website Crew, he got the idea to create a platform where others could freely download stocked images. Advertising is the sole source of revenue for Unsplash. Some of the companies utilizing this service include Google, Le Creuset, Square, and Harley-Davidson.

Origin Story

Unsplash is a Canadian stock photography platform founded by Mikael Cho in 2013.

The idea for Unsplash came about after Cho was unable to source high-quality stock images for his freelance website Crew. After hiring a photographer, Cho posted the unwanted photos from the photoshoot online and invited others to use them as desired. The platform – at the time a humble Tumblr blog – saw 50,000 views on its first day of operation.

Unsplash then moved to its own website in September 2014 after surpassing 1 million downloads per month. The company partnered with Apple to furnish Apple stores with images sourced directly from Unsplash galleries. An API launched soon after, allowing third-party app developers like Trello to incorporate Unsplash images.

Crew was eventually sold to Dribble in 2017, giving Cho the funds and time to focus solely on Unsplash. An iOS app was released soon after.

In July 2020, Unsplash hit 2 million contributions from 200,000 global contributors. The platform now employs a team of editors and curators to sift through the large volume of photo submissions.

Unsplash was acquired by Getty Images for an undisclosed sum in March 2021. Operations will continue as a standalone brand with Cho at the helm.

Unsplash revenue generation

Advertising is the sole source of revenue for Unsplash. Some of the companies utilizing this service include Google, Le Creuset, Square, and Harley-Davidson.

Through its Unsplash for Brands feature, companies can advertise on the platform and take advantage of the viral nature of online imagery. The company claims its images are downloaded more than the similar services of Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe combined.

Unsplash stipulates that ads on its platform must be contextual and add value to the user experience. Ads are shown on related photo category pages or the advertiser can upload their own images and have them appear under relevant search terms. Brands choosing the latter option tap into a powerful form of advertising, as images are downloaded and repurposed in blog reposts, reports, or presentations.

In addition to collecting advertising revenue, Unsplash will also create authentic, high-quality imagery for each advertising campaign. Boxed Water is an example of a company that commissioned Unsplash photographers to create product photos in fun and engaging contexts.

At the time of writing, Unsplash for Brands is invite-only.

Key takeaways:

  • Unsplash is a Canadian stock photography platform founded in 2013 by Mikael Cho. He got the idea for the company after having difficulty sourcing high-quality photographs for his freelancer website Crew.
  • Unsplash earns revenue through contextual and organic advertising. It has worked with brands such as Harley-Davidson, Le Creuset, and Google. The company also charges companies if they require high-quality images for an advertising campaign.
  • Unsplash claims its advertising platform is five times more effective than TV and digital media. Brands may choose to advertise by uploading their own photographs, which are then shared across the internet.

Read Also: How Does Canva Make Money, How Does Pinterest Work And Make Money, How Does Instacart Make Money.

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